Early Encinitas

It was described, in a San Diego Union article on February 24, 1882, as “This embryo town,” consisting of little more than a railroad station. But the California Southern Railroad had marked the opening of the little station with newspaper ads a few days previously proclaiming, to mark Washington’s birthday, the “First Grand Excursion” to Encinitas and back. Not surprisingly, members of the local press were among the first “excursionists.”

“The soil is very rich in this vicinity,” stated the Union article, “and a number of small ranch houses have already appeared, and more are preparing to build…”

But the Union found that “the most inviting feature of this locality is perhaps, its proximity to the ocean,” describing “a magnificent beach” where “the excursionists spent the day, which was a novel experience to some and refreshing to all.”

A few months later that same year, Encinitas got its first post office. And in August 1882 the California Southern inaugurated weekly excursion trips there.

In January 1894, another Union article described Encinitas as “a prosperous village, with a population of about 200 people, two hotels, three general stores, a drug store, livery stable, blacksmith shop, a weekly newspaper, etc., and while there is no prohibitory clause in the real estate transfers, no saloon has been enabled to gain a foothold.”

The saloons would come later, but in the meantime people were coming to enjoy the seashore and, in increasing numbers, to settle and farm.

In February 1894, a correspondent supplying copy to the Poway Progress newspaper’s “Encinitas” column, wrote “It is early, but we have been planting corn.” In addition, the reporter noted that “Twelve quarts of luscious plums of the Burbank variety is what E. Farrar boasts of for one of his small three-year-old trees on the high dry mesa.”

Townspeople were also contributing to build up what we today call the local infrastructure.

“The bids are in for the building of the San Elijo bridge,” stated the Progress. Nine bids were presented to the board of supervisors, ranging widely in amounts. The work will probably not take very long to finish after it is once commenced. Then people can travel the coast road, which is shorter, without the danger and inconvenience of the present, especially when tides are high.”

Sources for this post included historic San Diego county newspapers, the book San Diego County Place Names A to Z by Leland Fetzer, and the National Archives and Records Administration’s database U.S. Appointments of Postmasters 1832-1971.

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